Underrated golf course architect in Myrtle Beach: Tom Jackson
If you’re one of those golfers who isn’t impressed by a big-name celebrity golf course architect (and the usual high green fees attached), the next time you’re in Myrtle Beach, consider a Tom Jackson-designed golf course.
Myrtle Beach has all the big names: Fazio, Nicklaus, Palmer, Dye and more. But there are some reoccurring names in the second tier. I call them the foot soldiers of Grand Strand golf: Tom Jackson, Clyde Johnston, Russell Breeden and Dan Maples.
Their mugs aren’t plastered all over the clubhouses and scorecards, they just build affordable and enjoyable golf courses for the average golfer, which is what Myrtle Beach has hung its hat on since the beginning.
Jackson courses are generally built in the late 80s and early 90s, so most play well under 7,000 yards. They aren’t overly-shaped, which means the courses can stay in good shape without an enormous maintenance budget. The facilities’ clubhouse is usually functional and understated, not grandiose like a Nicklaus or Dye. His website doesn’t even have a photo of him, holding a design plan standing next to a steam shovel.
That said, his courses are still pretty good looking and come with some great holes.
One of the best risk/reward par-5s in Myrtle Beach is the 18th at River Club, a Jackson design. On Thursday in the World Am, I played his River Hills design, which had a few great par 5s of its own, none better than the 17th, and there were several other holes that had me pleasantly surprised with the course.
Aside from River Club and River Hills, some other good Jackson courses are Arrowhead (A Ray Floyd “Signature” course, but Jackson did the dirty work here) and Aberdeen Country Club, where the Woodlands nine is a knockout, built on scenic natural wetlands you probably couldn’t get the permits to build on this day and age. It’s also home to this little guy.
If you want to spend a pretty penny to play Myrtle Beach’s best, play Tidewater, Dunes Club, TPC Myrtle Beach and Caledonia.
If you want an affordable but enjoyable course, you can’t go wrong with one of Jackon’s Grand Strand tracks.
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